In the latest in a series of National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA") enforcement actions related to employee use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter, the NLRB issued an Advice Memorandum re: Lee Enterprises in Arizona, concluding that an employee's Twitter postings were not protected concerted activity. The employer terminated one of its newspaper reporters in response to the reporter's Twitter postings wherein he called TV people "stupid," and made inappropriate and insensitive comments about local murders. Finding no violation of the NLRA, the memo observed that the tweets did not relate to terms and conditions of employment nor did the employee seek to involve other employees in issues related to employment.
In contrast, the NLRB issued complaints against Knauz BMW in Chicago and Hispanics United of Buffalo, NY. In Hispanics United, an employee posted to her Facebook page an assertion that workers did not do enough to help the organization's clients. This generated other employee responses defending their performance and criticizing working conditions. The employer discharged all involved for "harassment." The NLRB alleged that all engaged in protected concerted activity over working conditions. Similarly, in Knauz BMW, an employee posted on his Facebook page criticism over the food and beverage (hot dogs and bottled water) served to customers at a BMW dealership sales event, complaining that employee sales commissions would be hurt by such a plebian affair. The NLRB alleged that terminating the employee over these postings violated the NLRA protection for concerted activity.